Road trips rock because you get an amazing view of the changing landscape while you’re getting from point A to point B. But what’s a gal to do if she wants to travel without the expense of renting a car or taking weeks of vacation time? Since we’re committed to the journey just as much as the destination, we recently discovered our love of train travel, which is surprisingly affordable, offers YouTube wanderlust vlogger-worthy views and will help you check a ton of places off of your travel bucket list in no time. Read on for five amazing train adventures (not leaving from platform 9 3/4, but almost at cool as a real life Hogwarts Express) you can take solo or with your squad.
1. Rocky Mountaineer from Banff National Park to Vancouver, Canada: Have a couple of days free for an adventurous trip? Use ‘em on this two-day train journey, which starts in Banff, a beautiful resort town in Alberta that’s smack in the middle of a drop-dead gorgeous national park – and continues all the way to Vancouver on the west coast. Not only can you expect to see the magic of Canada’s beloved Rocky Mountains, but you can treat yourself to breakfast and lunch cooked to order. If you want to splurge even more, opt to get GoldLeaf Service. It comes with bottomless drinks and snacks, all served on the observation level, which boasts the BEST views. All sound familiar? It’s possible you caught the Rocky Mountaineer on The Bachelorette back in ‘09, where some of Jillian’s scenes were filmed.
2. Napa Valley Wine Train from Napa to St. Helena, United States: We found it — a train ride dedicated to wine! This short trip takes no more than an afternoon, but offers some of the best views and wine that northern California has to offer. You’ll get to sip on local Zinfandel as you speed by Napa’s rolling hills and lush vineyards. Riders enjoy a three-course meal during the 36-mile trip from Napa to St. Helena, with lunch and dinner trips to choose from.
3. Hiram Bingham Orient-Express from Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru: Named for the American academic and explorer who introduced Machu Picchu to the public in 1911, this amazing ride links two of Peru’s most loved and visited destinations — and only calls for a single day to see both. The route starts in Cusco, a charming colonial city with a lively town square, and follows an ultra-windy and magically scenic journey through the Urubama (Sacred) Valley to the famous ancient citadel Macchu Picchu. Since you’ll be en route for a bit winding along the Urubama River, you’ll love being served a mid-morning brunch and a delicious four-course dinner during your loop back. Sounds pretty perfect to us.
4. Danube Express from Budapest, Hungary to Istanbul, Turkey: Architecture lovers, take note — this four-day train journey is your ticket to stops in Hungary AND Turkey, with options to begin in either Budapest or Istanbul. So whether you’re jonesin’ to see St. Stephen’s Basilica or the Hagia Sophia, know that you can easily work them into a single trip. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also pass through the Transylvania countryside, where you can opt to stop in places like the well-preserved medieval town Sighișoara and the Bran Castle (AKA Dracula’s Castle). Literally cool, this is the ONLY international, private train in Europe that has air conditioning and en-suite compartments (really important info if you plan to book a summer ride — those handheld misting fans will just ruin your chic European look).
5. Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz, Switzerland: Switzerland has perfected the art of lots of things we love, like chocolate and all things après ski. The country also has some of the highest quality and most on-time trains in the world, which are the best way to travel through the Alps. Watch the snowy, pointy peaks shine against the bright blue sky and see the Instagram-perfect villages that the Swiss countryside is famous for. The green valleys and chalets actually prove to be just as majestic as the mountains that surround them.
When’s the last time you traveled by train? Where did you go? Show us your pics on Instagram by tagging @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)